Soudal Cyclocross Leuven: Niels Albert rides alone to victory
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Soudal Cyclocross Leuven: Niels Albert rides alone to victory

by Ben Atkins at 10:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
World champion escapes early on technical course; Sanne Cant takes women’s race

niels albertNiels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) won the second edition of the Cyclocross Leuven, the the east of Brussels, part of the Soudal Classics series, after escaping the rest of the field in the second of eight laps. The World champion rode most of the race alone, to finish almost a minute clear of Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor); Belgian champion, and 2011 race winner, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) finished third, after a bad start, just ahead of a hard-chasing Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea).

Wet weather in Belgium had softened the course, which featured a number of steep, technical drop offs and run ups through a wooded section; dry weather on the day had firmed up of the mud though, meaning that most riders only changed their bikes two or three times in the entire race.

Peeters gets away quickly but Team Albert soon takes over

Peeters made the fastest start, and was able to pull a little way clear as teammate Wout Van Aert dismounted for the two hurdles. The first technical section of the course backed the field up into a big bunch, but it soon began to spread out again on the big, steep drop off that followed.

Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) soon managed to get himself to the front on the second half of the lap, as a large group began to move clear; Albert and Pauwels were present - near the back of the dozen or so riders - but Nys was not. The Belgian champion was chasing in a small group withTelenet-Fidea duo Bart Wellens and Tom Meeusen, and was 12 seconds behind as they completed the first lap.

Most of Albert’s BKCP-Powerplus team was present in the front group, and he put them to work to try to hold off the chasers. Peeters got himself ahead again, however, and powered clear; Albert chased across to him, moving to the front, and as Peeters was unable to stay with him - the World champion began to pull away.

At the end of the second lap he was 15 seconds ahead of German BKCP-Powerplus teammate Philipp Walsleben, with Vantornout leading a small group just behind.

Now alone, Albert was able to pick his line through the course’s most technical sections, and - as Walsleben slowed the chase behind him - was pulling further ahead. Vantornout tried to increase the pace, but the BKCP-Powerplus team was not about to give up control, and Walsleben moved to the front again.

The pace of the chase group meant that more riders were able to join from behind, including Nys and Pauwels.

At the end of lap three though, Albert’s lead had grown to 40 seconds, and was still rising.

Albert rides away as his teammates block

During the course of the next lap, Walsleben moved back in the group and allowed teammate, Belgian under-23 champion, Wietse Bosmans to take over control; the former German champion then jumped away into a clear second place behind his team leader.

Back in the chase group, Wellens misjudged his bunny-hop over the second of the two hurdles and came down; the former two-time World champion took some time to get up, but this was more through embarrassment and wounded pride than any physical injury.

Pauwels and Peeters pulled clear of the chasers and, with Bosmans close behind managed to fight their way up to Walsleben. Pauwels came through to take up the chase, with only Walsleben able to stay with him, but Albert’s advantage was now 53 seconds with three laps to go.

Nys was at the head of the big chase group, which was a further 15 seconds behind, but Albert was smoothly making his way around the technical section of the course, and was showing no intention of being caught.

Pauwels escaped Walsleben, and Peeters caught up with the German, these three were now well clear of the rest of the field, with Albert alone up front. Having escaped the others, Pauwels was powering away in pursuit of Albert; meanwhile, having recovered from his bad start, Nys was closing in on Peeters and Walsleben.

With two laps to go Pauwels was 50 seconds behind Albert, with Nys leading Walsleben and Peters at 1’02”; the next group was led by Meeusen another 15 seconds behind, with the rest of the field scattered behind them.

After several bursts of speed were recovered by Peeters, Nys finally managed to escape and set off to catch Pauwels; Albert was 43 seconds ahead of the Sunweb-Revor rider as he took the bell, with Nys 15 behind him.

The Belgian champion had Pauwels in his sights, and was gradually reeling him in, but the younger rider was still well clear as he exited the most technical area. Albert, Meanwhile was calmly and smoothly riding to the finish, where he had plenty of time to sit up and celebrate his seventh race of the season - and his first in more than a month.

Pauwels, having held off Nys, rolled over the line to take second, while Nys had to take care that a charging Peeters didn’t catch him, as he took third.

Sanne Cant keeps her cool on the technical course to take women’s race

Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) rode away from the field to take victory in the women’s race, as the rider best able to handle the sticky, technical course. The Belgian champion finished well clear of American Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea) in second place, taking her best result of the season so far, with Ellen van Loy (Melbotech) third.

In the absence of a number of big names Cant was able to take control of the race early on, and gradually managed to pull clear of the rest. Dombroski and Van Loy stuck close the the Belgian champion’s wheel but, on the steepest of the drop offs, Cant rode down where the others had to walk, and she escaped.

Dombroski managed to escape Van Loy - who came down on a number of occasions - and managed to secure second place, but Cant was already too far ahead, and the Belgian champion rode alone to take her third victory of the season.

Result Elite Men
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
3. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
4. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
5. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
6. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink
7. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
8. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
9. Wietse Bosmans (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
10. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea

Result Elite Women
1. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
2. Amy Dombroski (USA) Telenet-Fidea
3. Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Melbotech Cycling Team
4. Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles
5. Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Cycling Team Vermeeren
6. Nancy Bober (Bel) Style&Concept Cycling Team
7. Suzie Godart (Lux) Team Duedi Biemme Metal
8. Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Sengers Ladies Cycling Team
9. Hilde Quintens (Bel) Melbotech Cycling Team
10. Nicole De Bie-Leyton (Bel) Telenet-Fidea

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